The Quirks You Hate To Love

With age, come quirks. And quirks are the things daughters seem to notice best. A mother-daughter relationship has its positives, like periods that start on the same day and knowing just when to give a hug, and its drawbacks. One of which is noticing the other female's quirks. No doubt, my mom counted every hair flip, eye roll and use of "like" during my teenage years. She chalked these little social quirks up to adolescnece and discovery, a phase that would soon pass. And now, it seems it is my turn to set my focus on my mom every so often and tally the goofy little ticks she has developed as of late.

Before I graduated from high school, I mastered my mother's telephone greeting. It was a halted "a-Hello?", accentuating the "llo?" in an elevated octave above her every day voice. I studied this because every so often the High School Administrative Office would call home expecting an adult to explain my prior absence. I needed to sound like that adult.

I think we all studied our parents at various points in our lives. We quietly observed their angry moments, their thoughtful concentration, their bubbling happiness. Somehow piecing together the fabric of our personalities, picking and choosing from scraps of their behavior that suited us best.

My mom flares her nostrils when she's really happy to see you, or really mad. She curls her lips when she's determined. My mom wakes up with "Bob's Big Boy" hair in the morning and falls asleep at night on the sofa, snoring like a bear. I find her to be giving, thoughtful, stubborn, secretive, wise, cooperative, intelligent, and beautiful. But she has this thing she does on the phone sometimes that has truly developed into a "Quirk".

First off, you cannot expect to reach my mother via telephone between 5:30 and 6:00 pm. As she calls it, she has "a date with Brian" (the syndicated news guy) and will not, no matter your urgency, talk to you on the phone at that time. And if you're already on the phone with her, and for some reason you mention you should go, or she needs to get off the phone, forget social mores. Forget the banter of "oh okay, anything else?" or polite chit-chat before the typical "alright, talk to you later" and " bye" and "bye". Oh no, at your mention or her thought of needing to exit, she'll just quickly feed you the "Oh-okay-honey-gotta-go-uh-huh-yeah-luv-you-buh-bye, CLICK." I never understood why there were so many consecutive words and so little listening in those last seconds before she hangs up. As if she's carrying on a lightning fast conversation and you could squeeze a word or two in between uh-huh and yeah. It's impossible, I've already tried. Her mouth is going, her ears are off and she has one finger poised on the END button.

Which brings me to the conversation I had with my mother today. It began with the innocent exchange of events in our day. I'd called her at 4:43, knowing full well my minutes were ticking before 5:00. I shared with her the realization that my husband had been home on vacation for nearly 3 weeks! She said she had hurt her knee again and had a doc appt. to see if she needed another surgery. I told her my M-I-L had graciously picked up both girls this afternoon to take them to dance class. That John and I were home alone, working on our various house projects (which in actuality, meant he was on a ladder hammering away at crown moulding and I was pulling every muscle in my crotch moving giant pavers into place in our sideyard, ugh). I wandered into the kitchen while we were conversing and my mother was mentioning that she was hoping to drag my dad out to dinner tonight or something. That's when John jumped off his ladder and suggested we run down to the beach to watch the sunset before his mom and the girls came home. So, I said to mom, "Ohpe, mom, my husband is asking for a romantic moment so I'd better run (romantic, referring to the sunset, of course). And she says, "Oh-okay-I'll let you go-don't get pregnant-yeah-uh-huh-luv-you-buh-bye" and just as I burst into silent hysterics she repeats, "Oh-okay-I'll let you go-don't get pregnant-yeah-uh-huh-luv-you-buh-bye." CLICK.
Quirks, gotta love em.


Where The Mind Wanders

I woke up this morning at 5:30 a.m. pissed off at my husband. And believe it or not, it wasn't because his alarm was blaring. He had been a complete asshole in my other dream life and I wasn't about to leave the grudge behind. So I trudged behind him to the living room, grumbling about some secret girlfriend and a rooftop rendezvous in a dollhouse.
As part of a new exercise regime, stemming from a new battery in our bathroom scale, I have promised to rise in the wee hours of the morning to be a workout accomplice. The scale has been out of commission since the first official day of holiday gorging began. And now that it's over, a new battery reveals a poignant truth about the past 6 weeks of celebrating, beer, cookies, See's, etc. Well, sort of. I discovered that my weight has not budged since November, phew. John emerged from the bathroom with a look of disgust. And then he recited his college weight with great determination (I didn't bother mentioning to him that 12 years, 2 kids, more work and less play makes John an average adult weight with average adult love handles-but you can dare to dream, honey). That's when the sit-ups, push-ups and burpee mornings were instated. And yes, I was a proponent of this all because I would sooner loose a little sleep and gain a little muscle before enduring days more of "weight whining about the college days".
After 10 sit-ups, I dropped my dream grudge. After 10 more sit-ups, I was awake. And after the god-damned burpee torture (thanks for that, sis) I was TOTALLY AWAKE...at 5:56 a.m. Then John pulled on his wetsuit and left. Okay, just me and the dog, a roaring fire, a dark room, Lucky Magazine and complete silence. (Did I just sigh aloud?)
Flipping through the pages of fabulous fashion, I realized my focus was not on great handbags (have one), nor patent platform heels in ruby red (got some), I was subconsciously shopping for skincare products. Since my 32nd (cough, cough) birthday I've kept a watchful eye on my face. Yesterday, I noticed that those sleep wrinkles beside and under my eyes, the ones I've assumed fade after a few minutes like a crease of the sheets across your arm, DO NOT FADE!!! I still have deep creases beside and under my eyes at 3 p.m. (I finally had a second to look in the mirror twice in one day). I mean, last year, it became clear that going to the pool in the morning was an all day sacrifice because the goggle rings around my eyes refuse to "un-dent" anymore. I actually had to explain to my gynecologist last month that children were not the reason I looked so haggard-it was my damned pool workouts! But I digress, back to the point: I've decided to use my sister's summer wedding as my facial skin improvement deadline. Yes, that's right, I'm prepared to spend, scrub, lather and peel whatever it takes to make this face Hollywood gorgeous for the day I walk down that aisle (in, my matron of honor dress). After all, a wedding, mine, hers or yours, is a great goal for self-improvement.
And so I began to picture myself in salmon colored taffeta, a stiffly styled coif atop my head, with the face of a cover model flouncing down the aisle in youthful perfection. I have a lot of work to do in the short 6 months before this ordeal. And then, I followed my imagined, albeit porcelain-faced, self through the motions of this future wedding and realized that I would be seated at the head table with the wedding party and someone was going to hand ME A MICROPHONE. OMG I have to speak. OMG I have to speak about my sister (admittedly an easy topic until you introduce the 200 or so people listening to me, critiquing my wavering voice, the tears of nervousness, I mean joy, rolling down my flawless cheeks). I'm panicking in the pre-dawn dark of my living room with 6 months to go. No amount of sit-ups will make this task easier. I have to write a speech. A speech. I have to weave the beauty of my sister as herself, as a bride, and as a wife into one cohesive speech. I have to say something complimentary and sweet about her new husband and their relationship. I have to reflect on my own marriage and give prophetic advice. I have to make the whole crowd laugh once or twice (ALL of them laugh...) I have to remember snippets of my childhood with my sister. WHOAH, there's so much to be said but I have to choose each word carefully. Everyone will be listening, everyone will be anticipating my thoughtful quips, my comedic timing, my tearful but happy delivery. I will be standing in front of a crowd of 200 people with a microphone and I cannot blow it.
I have to give a speech.


The Burpee

I've mentioned my Barbie-esque little sister before and her obsessive gym habits. Well, she has kindly introduced me to one hilarious moment after another in the workout world. I'm sure this one takes the cake. During our Christmas vacation at home together, she opened all her gifts, drained the last drip from her mimosa, and strode into the office to clear some floor space.
"What are you doing?" I giggled as I hung, lazily over the back of the sofa.
"I'm doing a 'CrossFit.com' workout," she responded.
"A WHAT?!"
I was more than intrigued, especially after a mid-morning adult beverage.
Without cracking so much as a smirk, she responded, "Watch."
And then she did something that bordered on an eighth grader's "Crazy Eight" game but without the bouncing and, it looked like less fun.
I found myself drawn towards her stand-to-collapse-and back-to-stand motions like a mesmerized circus crowd. She began at a standing position, then dropped down to a yoga-like plank pose, then ever more quickly, condensed herself and stood back up with an enthusiastic hop.
And then, I stumbled over to her carpet space and jumped into sync with her. After two or three we started to look like MTV Back-Up dancers in a Janet Jackson Film. Except instead of ripped jeans and a sexy half top, we wore flannel pj bottoms and sweatshirts. After 8, I started to sweat. Then I stopped.
"What do you call these things?" my heart rate through the roof.
If you're crazy enough to try this at home, be warned that after 20 or so I found myself sore between every rib, around my belly button, under my butt and above my knees. Pretty much everywhere besides my ankles. I don't recommend the pre-workout mimosa, either.
Oh yeah, and she did 100. Good luck.


Toddler Humor

"But I really want my high heels, Mommy!"
Shelby was on her way to the park with her Gigi and I was anxious to begin my one hour of quiet solitude while Ana slept through her afternoon nap.
"Shelby, you have three pairs of shoes on the back porch to choose from! Ana is asleep and I don't want to wake her up!"
She glanced at the shoe rack on the back porch and sized up her options.
"No, I really want to wear my red high heels."
The clock was ticking and minutes with my name on them were slipping away.
"FINE. Stay here on this rug and please don't move," I instructed as I headed for the girls' darkened room. I couldn't risk waking up the baby.
I played the James Bond theme in my head and slinked towards the closet like a Russian Spy. I quietly removed each shoe from the shoe basket, one at a time, in hopes of unearthing the red patent heels. Nothing. THINK!! Where could those bloody red high heels be?! I looked around the room desperately before returning to the closet and spotting her luggage bag on the top shelf. A scene from our last trip flashed through my mind and I saw myself zipping up her shoes in an outside pocket. !VOILA! I found them.
I rounded the corner into our kitchen and she was seated on the rug, right where I had left her. She smiled when she spotted the red heels in my hand. And then, and then she said with the slightest smirk on her face, "Did you make 'em, Mommy?"